Alex Garland’s Men — his horror-movie follow-up to Annihilation and Ex Machina — ends with none cut-and-dried decision. It’s unclear from the film’s ultimate moments precisely how the battle resolved, or how actual any of the motion was. The film is full of Biblical and pagan symbolism, however students have lengthy debated the historic which means of the two major icons Garland makes use of right here, and Garland himself doesn’t provide any solutions. Men is a closely metaphorical film that makes use of hanging, provocative pictures for emotional affect, however it doesn’t lend itself to easy or definitive readings.
And Garland means that it wouldn’t matter if it did. Even if he have been far more blatant about spelling out an agenda in the film, he thinks viewers would nonetheless interpret it based mostly on their very own experiences and biases.
“Many, many times, I’ve encountered people who say, ‘This film is clearly this,’” Garland tells Polygon. “And what they really mean is, ‘It’s clearly this to me.’ And that ends up being about them as much as it is about the film. It is about their response to it. It’s about their life history, it’s about their concerns about the world and their interaction with it.”
Garland factors to the starting of his profession, and his novel The Beach, which director Danny Boyle finally made right into a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tilda Swinton. DiCaprio performs a novelty-hungry traveler who follows a rumor to an remoted island, the place a bunch of worldwide vacationers are attempting to maintain a gorgeous seashore to themselves, fearing that tourism and recognition will spoil their paradise.
Garland says he supposed the story to be crucial of the backpacker scene. “And I very quickly became aware that some people were reading it as celebratory of the backpacker scene,” he says. “I’ve encountered that again and again and again. I’ve had people telling me, ‘Ex Machina is about this, and you’re saying that.’ And I’m thinking ‘No, that’s you saying that. That is your imaginative response to Ex Machina, and that’s fine.’”
As far as Men goes, Garland says he’s averted revealing something about his personal intentions or interpretations. At a Q&A after the New York City premiere of Men, he instructed the viewers, “It’s not just shit happening. I’ve got a rationale, but it doesn’t seem to be terribly important.”
That feeling that his learn on the ending wasn’t vital was what led him to chop a brief ultimate scene that may have cleared up a minimum of some of the ambiguity. The scene was shot, he says, however he determined throughout the edit course of that the movie labored higher for him with none explanations.
[Ed. note: Full spoilers ahead for the ending of Men.]
In the movie, a lady named Harper (Jessie Buckley) retreats to a rustic property in England after her husband’s demise. Harper supposed to divorce James (Paapa Essiedu), and when she tells him, he hits her and yells at her. The ensuing argument ends with him falling off a balcony to his demise, although it’s unclear each to Harper and to the viewers whether or not he intentionally jumped or by accident fell whereas making an attempt to interrupt in on Harper after she locks him out.
On the rental property, Harper meets a collection of males (and one creepy teenager) who all have the face of Rory Kinnear. All of them need one thing out of her, they usually meet her refusals with totally different ranges of rage, contempt, or condescension. Eventually, a number of of the males confront her in a sequence that begins out as a home-invasion horror film and turns into one thing extra like cosmic physique horror. When she wounds one of the males, each subsequent one reveals the identical horrible wound, which mimics the deadly injury James suffered in his fall. And when one of them corners her, it promptly offers beginning to a different man-monster, which supplies beginning to a different, in a series of bloody, dripping bodily expulsions.
Finally, the final man-monster offers beginning to James, nonetheless damaged and mutilated from the occasion that killed him, however seemingly alive. Harper, wielding an axe and clearly gone being afraid of these creatures, asks James what he desires from her, and he says he nonetheless desires her love. Her response, like a lot of the film, is ambiguous. Then Garland cuts to a later second the place Harper meets with an outdated pal, Riley, and the two ladies trade a wordless smile as the movie ends.
Did Harper kill the new James intentionally this time? Did she depart him to his personal gadgets and simply stroll away? Did they arrive to some type of accord? Did she simply resolve she wouldn’t let her life be outlined by guilt over him, making what occurs to him in the finish irrelevant to her story? Was any of it actual, or was it all a hallucination prompted by Harper’s grief and confusion? (The crashed automobile and the blood on Harper’s clothes suggests one thing actual occurred, however doesn’t spell out what.)
While Garland’s authentic ultimate scene was brief — he describes it as “four or five lines of dialogue between Harper and Riley” — it nonetheless may need made Harper’s state of thoughts and her interpretation of occasions just a little clearer.
“In terms of what we shot, Jessie’s character looks up and smiles, and Riley walks over and they have a little dialogue exchange,” Garland tells Polygon. “I cut that dialogue exchange and came out of the film on the smile between them. Riley looks quizzical, and Harper smiles in reply, and is in a way pleased to see her.”
In that New York Q&A, Garland was just a little extra particular. “I’m always looking to cut dialogue,” he mentioned. “I personally found it more touching when they just smiled at each other, because it’s been so dreadful, what preceded that moment. And all they have to do is smile at each other, and that felt stronger and simpler. The dialogue felt redundant next to the smile.”
He additionally instructed the viewers that their questions on what occurs at the finish are a lot of the level of the film. “I’m trying to lean into something which has to do with the way the audiences interpret, imaginatively engage, with images in the story,” he mentioned. “I particularly wanted to step back, because there’s an element of it where the nature of the way it is interpreted by different people is actually what the film is. So I don’t want to intervene.”
He tells Polygon that since he desires individuals to return away with their very own interpretations, he isn’t involved with them misreading his. “I think it’s very likely that what you’ll get is some people whose opinions chime very closely with mine, and some people who chime very closely with other people who worked on the film, and some that are in a completely oppositional state,” he says.
And in the finish, he rejects the concept that the creator of a bit of artwork is any type of authority on what it means in the first place. “I see that written again and again — this thing is this, as if the writer is capable of having a definitive answer about the nature of something,” he says. “And I just dispute it. I dispute it in my interactions with people on anything, whether it’s a bacon sandwich or a book we both enjoyed or didn’t enjoy.”